A federal appeals court of three judges granted the Texas Attorney General’s request yesterday to reinstate restrictions on abortion providers after a federal district court had blocked the implementation of the restrictions earlier this week. Proponents of abortion rights will appeal the decision either to a full Court of Appeals En Banc or to the Supreme Court. In the meantime, some 12 Texas clinics that cannot meet the unnecessary requirement of the doctor having admitting privileges at a nearby hospital will close today.
Clinics, because of the intense harassment of their doctors, have been forced to have doctors travel a distance to the clinic. These long-distance doctors generally do not have local admitting privileges which are unnecessary because in the rare case of an emergency the local hospital would have to admit the patient.
“The immediate impact will be felt by low-income women who will not only lose services to abortion but also to birth control, STI testing, and cancer screening as these clinics close,” said Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal. The closest facility for some Texas women will be three to four hours, especially in the southwestern part of the state.
This is a “deeply disturbing court decision tonight that will hurt a lot of women — this fight [is] far from over,” Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, wrote on her Twitter account last night.
Immediately after a federal district court Judge Lee Yeakel had struck down the law, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott appealed for a stay to allow the law to go forward. A three judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals granted his request yesterday.
While the appeals court left in place Yeakel’s decision on medical abortion, it disagreed with the hospital admitting privileges decision. The appeals court claims that the ruling overlooked the interests of the state in regulating the medical profession, and that the US Supreme Court has held that having “the incidental effect of making it more difficult or more expensive to procure an abortion cannot be enough to invalidate a law that serves a valid purpose,” reports NPR .
Media Resources: Feminist Newswire 9/5/13, 10/3/13, 10/29/13; NPR 10/31/13